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Where did the first paper bags come from?


July 1, 2004
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Until the Industrial Revolution, paper was reserved for writing purposes only. A packaging industry had not yet developed and bags were expensive to manufacture and were made to order only when absolutely necessary.

Until the Industrial Revolution, paper was reserved for writing purposes only. A packaging industry had not yet developed and bags were expensive to manufacture and were made to order only when absolutely necessary.

The first paper sacks appeared in approximately 1800. They were fabricated from a sheet of paper that was hand-rolled into a triangle and the resulting container was called a cornucopia.

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The first paper sack machine materialized in 1869. The official inventor was Hermann Hlscher. His invention was able to produce 40 sacks per minute but it wasn’t until 1877 that he created a flat paper sack machine that folded the paper in two and sewed both sides shut.

Margaret Knight, ‘the mother of the grocery bag,’ is credited with the invention of the part of the machine responsible for automatically folding and gluing the bags together, resulting in a square-bottomed bag. Her invention is still in use to this day.


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